Monday, February 15, 2010

Nigel Kennedy: brilliant. MSO: Bunch of reanimated zombies.

On Saturday night Hubs and I saw Nigel Kennedy in concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Great programme - Bach and Duke Ellington. A jazz band integrated very well into a truncated orchestra and both the classical and the jazz works were performed in characteristically virtuosic style.

There's just one problem.
The MSO (and possibly the Melbourne music scene as a whole, not just the classical half) are uptight ponces who take themselves far too seriously and come across as having the wit, charm, and personality of a granite boulder.

Perhaps I am spoilt; a child of the eighties and a teen of the nineties, I'm used to the pop stars who looked like they could dance, sounded like they could sing, and managed to dress themselves without stylists. They may have even managed some faux-acting every once in a while.

There is something irresistable about a man who can clumsily and with great delight soul punch the fist of a cellist when a duet goes well. Who dares to play conerto movements out of the accepted order (yes, I'm sure they did that in Bach's day too!) and nearly falls over a cello on his way to check the time signature of a jazz composition. There's a lot to be said for people who PLAY the music rather than dissect it.

After the concert I collided with another Suzuki teacher; also a violinist, she confessed that she'd had something of a crush on Sir Nigel at the tender age of seventeen. Given he's thirty years older than me, I don't know about the crush factor, but he did keep me playing through my teenage years.

Actually, my beloved uncle (not a muso in any shape or form) stumbled across Kennedy's genius and bought eight-year-old me a cd.

A few years later he bought me a pair of cherry Doc Martens for Christmas (Nigel having a serious fetish for this footwear). He'd agonised over them so much and been so happy with the purchase for his twelve-year-old niece that his girlfriend bought him a pair too. Together we kicked the ponciness out of classical violin in our matching anti-establishment cherry Docs, defiantly unlaced and scuffed to all get out. Ah...Docs...

So, the concert? Wonderful. Brilliant. My mother-in-law is damned fantastic. Possibly better, however, than the gift of the concert was the reminder that we are all human. We are all here for only so long, and what we leave behind will or will not resonate. I think I'll try to stay focused on the music. The theory, the science... well, that's all well and good, but will my students say "Hey, she really taught me how to accent the mathematical progression of sequencing in Bach!"? Hm.

It's not unimportant, but it's not everything. And in the words of the man himself on Saturday night: "After twenty years ANYONE can play the Bach [A minor concerto] technically, it's REALLY knowing it that's the thing."

Gee. You think?

NB: Being the slave of a "serious" art form does not mean you are permanently in thrall to it. It will just make you incredibly boring, possibly devoid of the emotional depth and nuance that's necessary to play with conviction.

Possibly this is my nail in the coffin of our 'cultural' scene; it's perpetrators don't look like they're having fun and I don't really feel like joining them.